AUGUST: CHRIS & JOSH PHELPS
We won’t go so far as to say that our next superstar Sunday School preachers are godlike but we bet that many in Napa Valley wouldn’t be surprised if one day these two found a way to add “walks on water” to their resumes ;) Please help us welcome father/son duo Chris and Josh Phelps! On Sunday August 12, these two will share with us almost 4 decades of winemaking experience covering everything from launching their own brands, to working for some of Napa’s and Bordeaux’s most storied properties, to growing up in St. Helena and more. Read on to learn more about what these two bring to the table…
Growing up in Livermore, CA, Chris has been surrounded by vines since day 1. Early on he developed a deep connection to both the land and the French language. So when it was time to head off to college the decision was easy. Chris made his way to UC Davis majoring in French & enology. Upon graduation he wasn’t quite ready to stop learning and enrolled in the Institute of Enology at the University of Bordeaux in 1981. While there, Chris needed to get some practical experience and casually dropped into the position of winemaker at Chateau des Laurets in Puisseguin-St. Emilion just in time for the landmark 1982 vintage. While in Bordeaux he met two men that would prove to be just the mentors he needed to launch his career in turning water into wine :)
These two men were Christian Moueix and Jean-Claude Berrouet of Bordeaux’s esteemed Chateau Petrus. This association afforded Chris the opportunity to spend a winter working at the famed chateau and landed him a new gig back across the pond in 1984 as winemaker at Moueix’s brand new Napa Valley project - Dominus. For 11 years Chris helmed Dominus and from there he went on to become winemaker at Caymus, Swanson Vineyards and finally his very own label - Ad Vivum.
Launched in 2007, Ad Vivum is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon sourced solely from the Sleeping Lady Vineyard in Yountville. A true expression of terrior, the Ad Vivum wines showcase Cabernet at it’s best vintage after vintage. Never one to sit idle, Chris still consults for Swanson and is the newest consulting winemaker at Inglenook beside Philippe Bascaules (of Chateau Margaux). When he’s not in the vineyards you can find Chris sipping margaritas and making homemade pizza pies in his very own outdoor wood fired oven.
Growing up in St. Helena, CA with Chris as a father, Josh was ensconced by the winemaking industry from the very beginning. Josh further forged his connection to the wine industry throughout college - selling wine, working harvests, and making some damn good juice with his dad. Upon graduation, Josh took a position working production for Joel Gott before moving on to helm Kimberly Jones’ Sacramento market to learn more about the business of importation and brokerage. During his time with Kimberly Jones, Josh took a leap of faith and co-founded his own brand - Taken Wine Co. - in 2010. He grew the business from a small 100 case production project to a nationally known name before selling it in 2017.
Ready for the next challenge(s), Josh launched his next passion project, Grounded Wine Co. in early 2017 and is now working with Vintage Wine Estates on the sales and distribution side of things. With help from his dad, Josh has selected top vineyards in Napa, Washington and the Central Coast to fuel this new project. Grounded Wine Co. currently produces ‘Steady State’ - a Napa Valley red wine - ‘Collusion’ - a Washington Bordeaux blend - ‘Public Radio’ - a Central Coast Grenache-based blend - and ‘Space Age’ - a Paso Robles Grenache rose. When he’s not out in the vineyards, at the winery or on a sales call for Vintage Wine, Josh can be found at PRESS’s bar sipping on frose (made with his ‘Space Age’ rose) or our signature ‘Some Like it Hot.’